Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Giant case of de ja vu

Auburn watchers viewing Super Bowl XLII tonight might have seen something familiar in how the New York Giants upset the heavily favored New England Patriots.
It looked a lot like how Auburn won big games in the last two years.
The Giants did it in large part because their defensive line won the line of scrimmage. How often did Auburn watchers see the Tigers' D-line do the same, especially in 2007? The best line in Tommy Tuberville's nine years as head coach line was the biggest reason why Auburn won nine games.
Back to tonight, the Giants' offense played ball control. The first quarter played out like a high school quarter, with both teams having one possession. A Fox graphic in the second quarter showed the Giants with a huge edge in possession time.
How many times did Auburn watchers see that over the last two years? At its best, Auburn's offense was a time eater and rest giver to its strong defense.
The Giants played to keep the Patriots' record-setting offense off the field and to be in striking distance in the fourth quarter. It worked, and then the Giants' oft-maligned, unspectacular quarterback came through with a game-winning drive.
How many times did Auburn and Brandon Cox do the same in 2006 and 2007? Enough for Auburn to win 20 games.
The Giants did it tonight and won 17-14 ... a very Auburn-like score, circa 2006 and 2007. Both teams did it in an unspectacular, nerve-wracking-for-fans way, but it's tried and true.
Now, Auburn watchers have visions of the Tigers' games playing out differently. They see more points with new coordinator Tony Franklin and his spread offense.
The spread worked well enough for Auburn to pull off a mild upset of higher-ranked Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, though the Tigers scored only 17 points in regulation and still won more because of their defense. Over the long haul, will the new way be at least as effective as plodding and plugging has been for Auburn and was for the Giants tonight?
I believe Auburn does not beat Florida the last two years by engaging in a scoring match. Good old ball control, defense, a break or two and gutsy game management won those games, and the Tigers would not have won either game another way.
The Giants would not have won another way tonight. A football purist had to love watching them beat the powerful Pats with sound football.

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